WE’RE all sick of seeing No Time To Die pushed back again.
It’s like being told on Christmas Eve that Christmas Day has been moved to Easter.
But here’s something to tide you over.
Land Rover supplied ten Defender X models for filming — the first ten off the production line, as it happens.
It didn’t matter if eight got wrecked, as long as chassis 001 and chassis 007 were handed back in good working order.
So here I am driving chassis 007 alongside Bond stunt driver Jess Hawkins on a wet and muddy test track.
As expected, it was a lot of fun. Also as expected, the Defender didn’t miss a beat. Jess said: “Just like today, everything we gave it in the movie, it took with ease. Everything we threw at it, it did as we asked. It’s an incredible piece of kit.
“And it looks amazing, doesn’t it? I love the black on black. Black car, black wheels, blacked-out windows.”
So how does the stunt car differ from the £79k Defender X road car?
Jess said: “It’s mostly safety precautions — roll cage, fuel cell, fire extinguisher — and a hydraulic handbrake. That’s the magic wand, as I like to call it. That’s my favourite bit. Other than that, it’s pretty much standard.
“Have you seen the Defender advert where it rolls and drives off? That says it all, really.” Tell us more about the Bond chase scene? “There’s Defenders, there’s bikes and there’s jumps. That’s me in the middle” (pointing to the final picture below).
She doesn’t want to risk upsetting EON Productions by saying any more.
But stunt co-ordinator Lee Morrison has previously said: “We needed an unstoppable vehicle to help us battle against the elements, steep descents and river crossings.”
This is Jess’s big film debut after previously working as a stunt driver on Fast & Furious Live and racing in the women-only W Series last year.
She finished second in the Mini GB challenge in 2017 and is a British junior karting champion. So how do you become a Bond stunt driver? Jess, 25, from Kettering, said: “I’d done a few live shows with Terry Grant and he put my name in the mix.
“I had to go to an audition where they set up some cones to drift around in a sequence in an old BMW M3.
“I remember doing it, rolling down the window afterwards, and Lee just saying, ‘Welcome to the team, Jess’ which was wicked to hear. Put me in anything and I’ll love it. Whether it’s racing, drifting, jumping off a big ramp, j-turning, anything, I love it. I’m so grateful for what I’m doing.”
Her next target is to land a seat in the 2021 British Touring Car Championship. Jess said: “That’s where my heart is, that’s where I want to be, but it’s all budget- dependent. I don’t have family money. It’s all going to be sponsor-related but I don’t think it’s unachievable.
“I don’t want to be known as a girl driver. I am a driver.
“W Series has been one of the best opportunities of my life. There is absolutely no way I’d be able to do Formula 3 without them. It’s been the most crazy ride ever.
“I’ll be forever grateful for that opportunity.”
For all you Land Rover nerds out there, you’ll also see the Range Rover Sport SVR in No Time To Die, as well as a Series III Land Rover and Range Rover Classic.
The good guys get Aston Martins.
- No Time To Die hit cinemas in April, 2021. Possibly.
BOBBER’S LOW, SLOW REBEL RIDE
HONDA CMX REBEL 500
NOT every biker out there is obsessed with the idea of riding as fast as possible everywhere. For some of us, sitting back and taking everything in is what it’s all about.
Bobber-style bikes such as this Honda Rebel 500 are just the ticket when you want to look cool and take your time doing it.
Typically, a Bobber (in the Fifties, bikers used to cut unwanted metal from their bikes to make them faster, this was called bobbing) would have a ginormous engine to annoy the neighbours streets away.
This Rebel 500 has an A2 licence (and neighbour-) friendly 470cc motor as seen in the brilliant CBR500R.
Two pert pistons, popping away side by side, give you usable torque and friendly power. There’s a fantastic feeling of connection with the road thanks to the balloon-style tyres the Rebel has.
They don’t give a bouncy ride but the Rebel is still comfortable for me at 5ft 11in. The riding position and low seat height feel perfect for newer riders wanting to build confidence and look cool.
The bike doesn’t care if you’re a boy or a girl – height is what matters here. If you’re over 6ft things could get cramped and you might be better off with something larger.
And like bigger Bobbers I’ve ridden, the Rebel suits a touch of rear brake on the way into slower corners to help keep the bike settled. ABS is on hand to keep you safe should you brake too hard. That’s pretty much it for rider software and electronic assistance.
I like the idea of uncluttered riding without the hassle of choosing modes and settings.
It’s not about getting back to basics, more like back to biking and that’s exactly what the Rebel 500 is all about. Stick it in gear and go look cool.
The Honda CMX Rebel 500 costs £5,799.
- John is Editor at SuperBike and presents Bike World on YouTube.
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